US DOL Guidance on Same-Sex Marriages and Employee Benefit Plans

The United States Department of Labor recently released guidance for employers regarding benefits plans and employees involved in same-sex marriages. The guidance states in general, the terms “spouse” and “marriage” in Title I of ERISA and in related Department regulations should be read to include same-sex couples legally married in any state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes such marriages, regardless of where they currently live.

According to the Tom Perez, Secretary of the DOL:

This decision represents a historic step toward equality for all American families, and I have directed the department’s agency heads to ensure that they are implementing the decision in a way that provides maximum protection for workers and their families. The department plans to issue additional guidance in the coming months as we continue to consult with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies to implement the decision.

The full text of the release is available here.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. Austin Legal’s Concierge Legal Services program is relied upon by companies to remain compliant and competitive. If you have employees, you need Concierge Legal Services. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at